Singapore's position as a centre for entrepot trade led to the proliferation of financial institutions. The settlement's first bank was the Union Bank of Calcutta established in 1846. Financial businesses set up their offices near the Singapore River to be close the the area's many trading houses. Early services were always along ethnic lines. The moneylending in the early days was primarly run by the Chettiars who came from South India. The Chettiars congregated at Market and Chulia Streets, and their offices were easy to spot. These usually comprised a clerk and a manager who sat behind a small low desk on a woven mat, as shown here. Clearing houses were the domain of hte Chinese. Capitalising on abundant trade between Singapore and China, these companies thrived. Clerks, like this standing pig-tailed man, were a common sight as they bustled to and from offices in Commercial Square (Raffles Place). Today mahor local and multinational financial institutions provided a wealth of sophisticated financial services. On the tranding floor of the Singapore Exchange almost every day, are hundreds of traders, whose distinctive jackets ahve become the symbol of economic growth. The tableau's lady trader hails the knowledge driven future, symbolised by the Millennium figure who leads the way to the Asian Civilisations Museum.
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